Upperville, Virginia, USA. – June 10, 2018 – As America’s oldest running horse show, the Upperville Colt & Horse Show (UCHS) has helped launch the careers of many young athletes. This year’s competition, presented by St. Bride’s Farm, brought together some of the best athletes in the world for the $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI 4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Smith. On Sunday afternoon in front of a packed crowd, the United States’ own Ali Wolff scored the biggest win of her professional career when she bested an eight-horse jump-off with a double-clear effort aboard her veteran partner Casall.
Cormac Hanley (IRL) & VDL Cartello
Thirty-one international athletes challenged Brazil’s Marina Azevedo’s first round track in the main grand prix arena, and the field was eventually narrowed down to eight combinations returning for the jump-off by clearing the course. Ireland’s Cormac Hanley was the pathfinder with Heathman Farm LLC’s VDL Cartello, returning first for the tiebreaker. The duo made the short course look easy and crossed the finish line in 43.09 seconds with all of the rails intact.
Kevin Babington (IRL) & Shorapur
The next four pairs to tackle the course were either too slow or their quick time came at the expense of rail. It wasn’t until fellow Irishman Kevin Babington and Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, entered the ring that the crowd saw the lead change hands. Upperville marked the 13-year-old mare’s first major competition back in the ring following an injury, and despite being somewhat careful, Babington was still able to be quick across the ground and the careful horse never touched a rail. They slid through the timers in 43.01 seconds, just 8/100ths of a second faster than Hanley to take over the top spot.
Babington would not hold the lead for long though, with two athletes left to compete. Saving the best for last, Wolff had an opportunity to watch the other competitors and see where she could make changes. She trusted her longtime partner and it paid off. They left out a stride to the first fence and kept their fast pace going to each fence, making sharp turns and wasting no time in the air. They galloped across the finish line in 41.50 seconds, capturing the biggest win of Wolff’s career and etching her name into the history books of one of America’s most prestigious horse shows.
Ali Wolff (USA) & Casall during the awards ceremony
Wolff is no stranger to success, as the hard working athlete has won North American Young Rider gold and represented the United States during Nations Cup competitions on numerous occasions. She is consistently in the top of the grand prix rankings, however, the $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI 4* marks Wolff’s first international grand prix victory.
Receiving rave reviews from exhibitors and spectators, the 165th Upperville Colt & Horse Show came to a close in front of a packed audience and featured an exciting finale. The entire team will be working hard as they prepare to continue to host both international and local athletes at the prestigious and historic event in 2019.
From the Winner’s Circle
Top Three: 3) Cormac Hanley (IRL), 1) Ali Wolff (USA) and 2) Kevin Babington (IRL)
Ali Wolff – $216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI 4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Smith winner
On her jump-off plan:
“I just had to stick with my same plan. I watched a few go and I watched some pretty fast rounds – McLain had a really fast round. And then I saw some 4 faulters, so decided I have to ride my best around, I can’t go anybody else’s speed but my own. I really didn’t have any other plan than that. I was fortunate enough to go last. Sometimes that’s more nerve-wracking, but it played out in my favor this time so I’ll take it!”
“We’ve had our partnership together for about six years, so as well as we know each other we’re still figuring each other out. On a hot day versus a cold day, in daylight or at night. I just kind of have to go in and ride the horse that I feel at the time. In the first round I just wanted to set my pace early and just keep on that pace. Everything came up nicely, he felt like he was really responsive to me, he felt really relaxed actually, that’s really the key for us. He really wanted it as badly as I did. In our jump-off, we set off with a very long distance accidently. Ever since that, it kind of did set the tone for our pace, we just kept finding things come up nice, all of our distances. I just stayed on it and so did he. He just kind of took care of me over the last fence and here we are!”
On competing at Upperville:
“This is my second year ever coming here. Last year was phenomenal. We made it mark on our calendar to come back. There are so many horse shows we can choose from these days, and we’re so lucky to have that, but that way you can be a little picky and you can choose quality. They have quality footing, quality standings, high standards, they treat horses and athletes amazing. They really cater to them. It’s evidence as, last year they had a good turnout, but this year was almost double, and I think a lot of that is word-of-mouth from riders and everyone that was here last year.”
Kevin Babington – Second place
On his jump-off with Shorapur:
“She’s a naturally fast mare, but she’s coming back off an injury and this is her first big show back. She’s very careful, so I had to make sure I had a good shot to number two and into the double and then could let it rip a little bit. But in this field that’s not enough, you have to be tight back on the second jump, you have to be tight back on the third jump.”
Cormac Hanley – Third place
On the first round:
“In the first round I was sixth to go, so I really didn’t get to see too many go. I was warming up. I walked the course and had a plan. Everything kind of went to plan in the first round. There was a while to wait for the next clear round, I think it was almost half the class before we got the next clear round, and then they started coming thick and fast. I think it was a good course. It got the right number of clear rounds. Eight for a jump-off is good, it was a fast jump-off. When you go early, you just have to stick to your plan and you have to know your horse. I was very happy when there were 15 or 16 gone and still only one clear round, I was hoping there was nobody else but that doesn’t usually happen, it’s never that easy!”
Michael A. Smith – Upperville Colt & Horse Show President
On upcoming changes for 2019:
“We are currently well aware that we are sold out with stalls and we have a challenge with scheduling, particularly on the jumper side. We’ve been talking all week to the landowner, Mr. Shelby Bonnie and there are plans being developed to look for another ring and a possibility of moving the FEI tent down one and adding another stable to the back where the hack field is. So stay tuned! We do realize and we do recognize that the grooms and the trainers, a lot of them have to go over in Winchester to stay and it makes for a very long day and we hate that for them that we are pushing them tight. So our goal is the have another jumper ring next year. And still keeping it available to the locals, that’s a big thing the board wants to make sure that it stays available to the locals that trailer in. So that’s where a lot of the pressure comes in of not cutting the numbers down, so we’re going to have to look at that.”
Barbara Roux – Upperville Colt & Horse Show First Vice-President
On the success of the 165th Upperville Colt & Horse Show:
“I think we do two things well. I think we do southern hospitality well and I think we have very, very good footing. The horses’ safety is our priority and we’ve made that a board priority to make sure that each of the rings has quality footing and is safe.”
$216,000 Upperville Jumper Classic CSI 4*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds and Mr. and Mrs. Michael A. Smith
Place / Rider (Country) & Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Ali Wolff (USA) & Casall / Blacklick Bend Farm / 0 | 81.15 / 0 | 41.50
2. Kevin Babington (IRL) & Shorapur / Shorapur LLC / 0 | 78.76 / 0 | 43.01
3. Cormac Hanley (IRL) & VDL Cartello / Heathman Farm LLC / 0 | 80.39 / 0 | 43.09
4. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-simpson / USA / Silver Raven Farms / 0 | 81.04 / 0 | 43.71
5. McLain Ward (USA) & HH Gigi’s Girl / Double H Farm / 0 | 79.57 / 4 | 40.63
6. Marilyn Little (USA) & Clearwater / Karen O’Connor / 0 | 79.11 / 4 | 41.55
7. Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) & Viva Colombia / Rose Hill Farm / 0 | 81.47 / 4 42.26
8. Christine McCrea (USA) & Nektarina B / Candy Tribble / 0 | 81.58 / 4 | 44.98
9. Victoria Colvin (USA) & Zambia Mystic Rose / Haras Rosa Mystica / 1 | 83.25
10. Juan Gallego (COL) & Fee Des Sequoias Z / Juan Gallego / 1 | 84.62
11. Lindsay Douglas (USA) & Butterfly Tibri Z / Lindsay Douglass / 1 | 84.80
12. Clementine Goutal (USA) & Darlon Van Groenhove / Remarkable Farms LP / 1 | 85.13
Source: Press Release by Rebecca Walton / Phelps Media Group for Upperville Colt & Horse Show
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Taylor Rains
Categories: CSI 4*